Khan deciding what to sing for Franklin tribute

By Nekesa Mumbi Moody

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Nov. 3 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this July 2, 2011 file photo, Chaka Khan performs at the 2011 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Khan, a Roll Hall of Fame nominee, will pay tribute to Aretha Franklin at a concert at the Rock Hall in Cleveland.

Gerald Herbert, file, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

NEW YORK — Singing an Aretha Franklin song is a formidable task for anyone — even for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee Chaka Khan.

Khan says she's struggling to find the right song to pay tribute to Franklin at a concert at the Rock Hall in Cleveland. Saturday's concert, featuring Khan, Lauryn Hill, Ronald Isley and others, will cap a week of festivities honoring Franklin as part of the museum's American Music Masters series.

"It's very special. I really don't know what songs I'm going to sing. I just know one of them won't be 'Respect,'" she said with a laugh.

Khan said she'd love to sing a jazz tune, as Franklin's early material was rooted in jazz. But since the event is at the Rock Hall, "I don't know whether it would be appropriate or not."

Khan said she's likely to pick one of Franklin's lesser-known songs: "I try to pick songs that people know and love, but weren't hits ... because it shows the artist's versatility."

Khan is a nominee for next year's Rock Hall as a member of the group Rufus. She said she's honored by the nomination, even if she doesn't make it in: "The fact that Aretha is there, if it never happens for me, she represents."

Still, she would like to make the cut — and hopes to do it on the first try.

"It would be a real shame to have to wait. I've been doing this for 40 years," said Khan. "But I've waited this long; I'm good I'm still alive, I'm still kicking."



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